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Best things to do & places to stay:

Last updated: 02 November, 2022
Expert travel writer: Dana Facaros

Magnificently set under the tallest mountains in Spain, Granada, capital of the Nasrid kings and the last stand of the Moors in Spain, is a city with a fairytale aura, crowned by the incomparable hilltop citadel and gardens of the Alhambra.

Granada’s conquerors in 1492, Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile, lie in the ornate Royal Chapel, one of the many monuments in the city below.

With its large university, 21st-century Granada has a youthful bohemian buzz and a multicultural feel, as it rediscovers its Jewish and Moorish past.

The magnificent National Park of the Sierra Nevada is on the city’s doorstep.

Orientation

The heart of Granada has two hills split by the river Darro, one topped by the Alhambra, the other by the historic Arab quarter of the Albayzin, with Sacromonte and its famous flamenco caves just east.

The narrow streets of old Granada surround the cathedral, while just east was the Jewish quarter, demolished in 1492 and renamed El Realejo by the Catholic kings. Modern Granada radiates out north and south.

The bucket list experiences our writer says you must do in this destination

The Alhambra

Granada, Andalusia, Spain

Spain’s most visited attraction is the stuff of dreams, filled with intricate mosaics and carvings, magical gardens and breathtaking views.

Best for ages: 13+ | £12

Flamenco in Granada

Granada, Andalusia, Spain

Andalusia is the birthplace of flamenco, which still pulses through its blood; Book in for a show at one of Granada’s excellent theatres.

Best for ages: 5+ | £15 | 90 minutes

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Other worthwhile experiences in this destination if you have the time or the interest

Caviar de Riofrio
Experience

Caviar de Riofrio

Granada, Andalusia, Spain

Not many people know Europe’s oldest and largest sturgeon farm is at Riofrio in the province of Granada. Tours and tastings are offered, accompanied by a glass of cava or vodka.

Best for ages: 18+ | Free

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A visitor bathing in a large rectangular bath inside the Hammam
Experience

Hammam at Aljibe de San Miguel

Granada, Andalusia, Spain

Atmospheric, Arab-style baths by Granada cathedral, with a hammam, aromatherapy treatments and exceptional massages including al-hakam, a full-body coating of warm chocolate, pepper and cinnamon.

Best for ages: 10+ | £22 | 1-3 hours

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A green tiled pool surrounded by arches with a curved ceiling
Experience

Hammam at Hammam Al Andalus

Granada, Andalusia, Spain

Stunningly-restored 13th-century Arab baths, using pure water from the Sierra Nevada in a range of Moroccan-style aromatherapy massages. Numbers are limited to make sure you book online before you go.

Best for ages: 5+ | £30 | 1-3 hours

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Close up of the exterior showing intricate stone detail
Experience

Royal Chapel of Granada

Granada, Andalusia, Spain

This jewel of intricate, lace-like Isabelline Gothic architecture, built just after the end of the Reconquista between 1505-17, holds the tombs of Ferdinand and Isabella, their daughter Joanna ‘the Mad’ and her husband Philip – parents of emperor Charles V.

Best for ages: 18+ | Free

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Our selection of the best Viator tours of this destination, plus helpful tickets and transfers

Albayzin and Sacromonte Electric Bike Tour in Granada

Albayzin and Sacromonte Electric Bike Tour in Granada

Granada

Take stunning photographs of Granada's historic Albayzin & Sacromonte neighborhoods on a 2-hour tour riding an electric bike. Discover the h...

€69 | Rating 4.94 / 5 [50 ratings]

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Tour supplied by:

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Granada Airport Private Arrival Transfer

Granada Airport Private Arrival Transfer

Granada

Travel from Granada Airport to your Granada city hotel. Transfer services are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

€41 | Rating 4.15 / 5 [13 ratings]

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Tour supplied by:

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Granada Electric Bike Guided Tour

Granada Electric Bike Guided Tour

Granada

Maximize time spent in Granada with an electric bike tour. Cover ground quickly as you cruise through this vibrant city, learning about its ...

€49 | Rating 4.71 / 5 [143 ratings]

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Tour supplied by:

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Granada Segway Tour

Granada Segway Tour

Granada

Make easy work of Granada’s Outdoor landscape hills and zip around the sights on the guided Segway Tour. Explore the ancient Albayzín and Sa...

€49 | Rating 4.90 / 5 [270 ratings]

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Tour supplied by:

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Our writer’s picks of the best places to stay in this destination

Hotel Casa Morisca

Granada, Andalusia, Spain

Overlooking the Alhambra, Granada’s most evocative boutique hotel occupies a superbly restored 15th-century mansion, full of romance and charm.

Official star rating:

La Almunia del Valle

Sierra de Nevada, Andalusia, Spain

A delightful rustic-chic boutique hotel in the Sierra Nevada, perfect for hiking or skiing – and only ten minutes from Granada.

Official star rating:

Parador de Granada

Granada, Andalusia, Spain

Granada’s parador, occupying a late 15th-century monastery, combines charm, history, service and enchanting views with an incomparable location, right on the grounds of the Alhambra.

Official star rating:

Eurostars Washington Irving

Granada, Andalusia, Spain

A peaceful, contemporary five-star hotel with a rooftop pool and views, just a few minutes down from the Alhambra.

Official star rating:

When to go

Peak season is spring, with Semana Santa and other fiestas: Christmas is another busy time. The city can roast in July and August; if you go then, take a long afternoon siesta.

Autumn is lovely and warm; January and February are quiet, and can be rainy, but offer a good chance to feel like a local.

Getting there and away

Granada’s small airport is 12km west of the city. Alsa buses meet each flight, and have numerous stops in the city. There are a dozen daily direct buses from Malaga airport to Granada (two hours) that stop at the bus station out of town, where you can pick up a taxi.

Getting around

Traffic is limited in the centre around the cathedral, where all points of interest are easily accessible by foot. Buses will take you up  the hilly bits (bus C30 goes to the Alhambra, bus C31 to the Albayzin, while C32 links both) and taxis are plentiful.

Numerous places rent out bikes and e-bikes for getting around on your own steam, but take care in the busy streets of the modern city.

Where to stay

It’s atmospheric and peaceful at night by the Alhambra, even if you’ll have to take the bus or taxis to get around, or face a long walk uphill. The Albayzin quarter looking across at the Alhambra is rife with stylish boutique hotels with beautiful views, near some of the liveliest bars and restaurants.

Staying around the Darro river, between the two hills is also good and convenient for the nightlife; the historic centre around the Royal Chapel is another good bet.

The big hotels in the modern city that host coach parties are less interesting.

Where to eat or drink

Plaza Bibrambla by the Cathedral, Plaza Nueva and Calle Elvira are the social centres of Granada, where everyone stops for a drink and a nibble (it’s one of the towns where they often give out free tapas).

University students hang out in the bars on Calle Pedro Antonio, and atmospheric tapas bars wait in the plazas of Albayzin and along the Carrera del Darro. Look for Moroccan-style tea rooms along Calle Calderia Nueva.

Where to shop

For souvenirs, spices and crafts, visit the remnants of the once great silk bazaar along Calle Alcaiceria (but beware pickpockets!). All the big Spanish fashion brands can be found along Calle Reyes Catolicos and Calle Recogidas. If you’re serious about tiles, visit the Fajalauza factory up in Albaycin.

The Sunday morning Mercadillo de Antiguedades de Almunecar in Paseo Blas Infante is the place to look for antiques.

What to buy

Look for traditional crafts: taracea (wooden inlays), ajalauza (hand painted blue and green ceramics), jarapas (hand-woven rugs from the Alpujarras) and   farolas (stained-glass lamps), silks and ethnic fabrics.

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